Cooking during the summer, at home or on vacation, is a true pleasure for me. Summer’s bounty combined with high quality proteins I keep stocked up on in my freezer make for the easiest, healthiest meals. This dish is no exception. There’s almost never a time I don’t have these ingredients handy. And a quick trip to the weekly farmer’s market makes this salad that much more fresh and amazing. That said, frozen corn and grocery store cherry tomatoes are not a bad backup!
My family has been spending most of the summer away from our home. This means a ton of planning to make sure I have all the ingredients on hand to keep healthy and delicious meals available. I love a good meal out, especially with my favorite date, but definitely treat it as just that – a treat! Less crowds, cheaper, healthier, and often tastier (if I don’t say so myself) when we eat most of our meals at home.
The key to getting my family to eat things like radishes (rich in vitamin C, calcium and potassium) and arugula (loaded with calcium, iron and vitamins A, C, and K) is to CHOP THEM UP! I’m not yelling, but this was a game changer a few years ago to get my family to eat more of these nutrient dense ingredients. I used to just omit them and add more familiar ingredients like corn, tomatoes, etc. but salads are so much more satisfying and nutrient dense with these added ingredients. Since my kids were little, I allowed them to pick out only one ingredient from their salad, but when chopped, it’s pretty hard to pick out that chopped radish or arugula! I guess they got older with more advanced tastebuds or just plain tired of trying to find all of the ingredient they think they don’t like. #don’tmesswithmom! For the record, I almost always chop my lettuce, even when I’m just making a salad for myself. It just easier to eat that way!
Cheers to healthy cooking,
Southwest Chicken Salad with Chipotle Lime Vinaigrette
Smokey, sweet, spicy, and healthy – this chicken and vinaigrette has it all! This is the kind of recipe that I make on a Sunday and eat all week long. During the summer – that means you'll rarely find my refrigerator without a mason jar of this vinaigrette or a container of this grilled chicken all ready for a quick salad. The chicken also is perfect on a BBQ chicken pizza or in a loaded quesadilla.
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 cup cilantro leaves and stems, roughly chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 large chipotle pepper
- ½ large fresh jalapeno pepper, roughly chopped
- ¾ cup avocado oil
- ¼ cup lime juice
- ⅓ cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp kosher salt
Salad – optional ingredients
- mixed greens/romaine/little gems/kale
- black beans, rinsed and drained
- tomatoes, chopped
- radish, sliced
- green onion, sliced
- avocado, diced
- cilantro, chopped
- crispy tortilla strips for topping
For the chicken: Combine the marinade ingredients in a glass bowl. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
For vinaigrette: Combine all ingredients in a high speed blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Grill the chicken: Preheat the grill to high. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place chicken on the grill and discard the marinade. Cook chicken until juices run clear.
Assemble the salad: Combine lettuce and desired ingredients in a large bowl and spoon enough dressing to lightly coat all the desired ingredients. Plate the salad and place chicken on top. Garnish with tortilla strips, if desired.
The vinaigrette makes enough for 4 entree sized salads as well as several salads throughout the week. I don’t include quantities for the salad ingredients but for a single salad I like to do: 2-3 cups of chopped lettuce, 1/4 cup each of black beans and corn, a handful of cherry tomatoes, 2 radishes, 1 green onion, 1/2 of an avocado, a few sprigs of cilantro and about a tablespoon of pepitas. I always top with a big pile of chicken and am full and satisfied for hours.
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